peaer Interview “Communication Is Most Important”

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peaer interview

Peaer is the slow-rock brain child of Connecticut’s Peter Katz. Katz writes and dynamic and intimate rock songs about life and communication. Gentle and poignant, Katz songs have been compared to bands like Duster, David Bazan and Furnnns. Pear has just released their sophomore self-titled album via Tiny Engines.

It’s 8pm on a Sunday evening in Fishtown Philadelphia, and in one innocuous brick apartment, well-dressed college students move in and out from the fenced-in backyard, socializing and sipping beers. Periodically, the El train rolls by, drowning out the lull of people. A shroud of fog blurs adjacent buildings. Someone leans out of the doorway announces that pear is going on. People ditch their cigarettes and smoosh single file into the narrow house, down the narrow stairs where they avoid hitting their heads, and into the narrow basement.

The ceiling is strung with Christmas lights, illuminating the white concrete walls. People now chatter inside excitedly with their eyes toward the front. Peaer, who have just released their self-titled album, are the subject of much of the excitement, and people begin to cheer as Peter Katz thanks the crowd for being there. A respectful silence falls over the room while the tempo to the first song is counted out on muted strings…

Earlier, I sat down with Katz in the open patio of The El Bar in Olde Kensington, where we talked about Peter’s background, recent press that peaer (pronounced “pear”) had received, and the direction of the band. Katz’s friend and on/off bassist Dan George, who plays in Connecticut’s High Pop, is with us too. We sit and drink the local brew, Kensinger Lager.

Katz explains to me that he grew up in Easton, Connecticut, where he played jazz and concert band in high school before joining the band Fugue, an instrumental math rock band, which he said was developmental for him in terms of musical taste.

“I was fourteen or fifteen when that band was happening, and got really into math rock, post-rock, bands that played rock music in much more creative ways than I had ever experienced.”

Katz went on to attend Purchase College of New York where he got his Bachelors in musical composition. “When I was considering going to college I knew I really wanted to go into music, because there was nothing else I had really spent any time doing or learning or caring about as much as music. I also didn’t have the training to go as a classical performer, so I went for composition.”

While at Purchase, Katz spent time writing contemporary classical music for various ensembles. “They appreciated the fact that I was coming from this experimental rock background and how I could apply that to contemporary composition.”

In lyrical content, Katz said that in his writing he draws inspiration from everyday conversations between people, and the complexities, implications and pitfalls of language.

“Communication is probably the most important element of my writing. A funny paradox is that if you are speaking to somebody, the action of speaking to that person says something to an observer, like “Oh they are the kind of person who speaks to this other kind of person. There’s a lot of odd things that come around… what you don’t say, too, for example.”

We talked about the difference between ‘peaer’ and the band’s last album, The Eyes Sink Into the Skull. Peter said that The Eyes… was written completely by himself, whereas for peaer, the songs were written in a practice space and with input from the other players, drummer Max Kupperburg and bassist Michael Steck.

“When I wrote the songs I really wanted them to be songs that I wouldn’t play in a year or two and be bored or frustrated with them. And I don’t feel that way,” Katz said.

Peaer was also recorded in an orthodox way. The drum tracks, Katz said, were put on to tape in the Purchase studio. The bass guitar was recorded in a friend’s kitchen, and some of the vocal takes were recorded in an attic. Katz said that they wanted to avoid paying for studio time and the rushing of the recording, which in the end, meant a more comfortable and deliberate process.

“I really enjoyed the idea of being able to wake up, have everybody make breakfast, and lay down some bass tracks. It felt really nice to just be able to be easy about it,” he said.

I had caught peaer on a high that night, since they played the Silent Barn the night before (Yours Are the Only Ears, Doubles, Adult Mom) an intimate space in Brooklyn.

“Going there last night felt like the biggest most fun party. I got to see all my friends at the same time and it was almost overwhelming,” said Katz.

Since the release of the record, members of peaer have been juggling working day jobs and playing shows at night, often in two different states. They eat a lot of fast food on the road Katz said, his go-to being the Mcdouble. The band, with a different bassist, are set to start on a three-week tour in November.

I asked peaer what kinds of tunes they have been listening to on the road, and both Katz and George had high praise for Philadelphia’s Palm, an experimental prog/math rock group.

“Our minds are constantly blown by Palm.” Said Greg.

When I asked about Kanye West, George laughed and said, “If you’re trying to keep this short, well…”

Katz went on to give his honest opinion of West: “I think he’s a compelling figure in the world. I don’t wholeheartedly agree with everything he does, but listening to The Life of Pablo this summer has changed the way I feel about popular music.”

I asked Katz about his dream gig, and he cited Olympia’s (now defunct) Kickball, David Bazan/Pedro the Lion, and lastly St. Vincent “to make us all feel like crap about what we’re doing,” he joked. “and Drake at the secret after party,” added George.

For Katz, the influence of Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan is undeniable. In response to tweets directed at Bazan from one of Katz’s friends, Bazan tweeted back, saying he was “super into it.”

“Yeah, it was one of the greatest days of my life,” Katz laughed. “He’s a hero of mine in a way.”

And peaer has been getting attention from all over, including features from Post-Trash, Stereogum and the A.V. club, and dozens of fan videos of their concerts uploaded to Youtube. Katz says he is humbled by the press.

“I had this moment where I realized that I hadn’t really thought about [the press],” Katz said, “but I’m grateful for all the nice things people have said and I’m constantly surprised that anybody feels compelled so say much about my music. It’s truly flattering.”

With the help of Ariel Bitran (Vangard Booking) peaer has booked a three-week East-Coast tour of the U.S. Tour dates can be found below. You can listen to peaer on Bandcamp.

Peaer tour dates

9/29—House Show—Allston, MA
9/30—Lyin’s Den—Woodbury, CT
10/1—Silent Barn—Brooklyn NY
10/2—New Planet—Philadelphia, PA
10/7—Rodrigues Coffee House (Fordham University)—Bronx, NY
10/15—The Stood at SUNY Purchase College—Purchase, NY

All November dates w/ Pupppy

11/1—Flemington DIY—Flemington NJ
11/2—Lily Trotter Tea Lounge—Washington D.C.
11/3—Underground Orchard—Richmond VA
11/4—Lunchbox Records—Charlotte NC
11/5—Radioshack—Raleigh, NC
11/6—Office Space—Chattanooga, TN
11/7—Drkmttr—Nashville, TN
11/9—TBA—Bloomington/ Rock Island IL
11/10—Auxiliary Arts Center—Chicago, IL
11/11—Club Soda—Chicago, IL
11/12—Casserole House—Grand Rapids, MI
11/13—Hybrid Moments—Detroit, MI
11/14—Blank Slate—Cleveland, OH
11/15—Misfit Manor—Columbus, OH
11/16—James Street Gastropub—Pittsburgh, PA
11/17—All Nite Diner—Philadelphia, PA
11/18—TBA—New Haven, CT
11/19—Shea Stadium—Brooklyn, NY
11/20—SUNY Purchase, The Stood—Purchase, NY

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